“Most of my friends think that David* and I have a great marriage. In many ways, we do. We’ve been married for 12 years, and David has always been a good provider and an amazing dad to our three young children.
We’re a close family – holidays twice a year with the kids, and on our wedding anniversary, David and I do something romantic together – just us. Usually, it’s a staycation at an expensive hotel or a short break overseas.
On the surface, everything seems great. But there’s something even those in my inner circle don’t know: David and I haven’t had sex in more than two years and I can’t figure out why.
Every night, we sleep in the same bed, but he doesn’t initiate sex the way he used to. Whenever I try, he makes it clear that he’s not interested, by gently pushing my hand away when I try to take his clothes off or saying that he’s not in the mood for sex.
It wasn't always this way
We used to have sex about two or three times week, and we could get pretty adventurous – experimenting with new positions, engaging in role play, and acting out our fantasies.
Of course, once the kids came along, that dwindled, but we still had sex at least once every couple of weeks. We didn’t have as much time or energy to experiment, but I think it was still a sex life most people would consider normal and fun. David and I took turns initiating sex and, unless one of us was really tired, we always made it a point to be intimate with each other. As a lover, I’d say David was attentive and generous.
I remember the first time his rejection baffled me. I reached over to touch David in a way that implied I wanted to have sex with him. He didn’t let me touch him. Instead, he was curt – pushing my hand away, with no explanation.
I was stunned because he’d never done that before, and had always been careful with my feelings. If he was tired, he would be upfront about it and suggest we wait until the next day. And he always delivered. I was hurt, but told myself he was just tired and not in the mood. At that point, I also wanted to give David the benefit of the doubt, so I ignored how I felt, and went to sleep.
The constant rejection
David’s rejection of my sexual advances continued over the next few weeks. Every time I tried to touch him, remove his clothes, or cosy up to him in bed, naked, he would either move my hands away, or squirm in discomfort.
After constantly being rejected for a couple of months, David’s behaviour started to really bother me. I tried to be spontaneous – entering the bathroom with a plan to have sex in the shower – only to be told that he didn’t have time for that. I tried wearing lingerie to bed – only for him to laugh at me, and tell me it looked stupid.
I was so angry and upset. But more than that, I was confused – David had always liked seeing me in lingerie. I couldn’t understand the change in his behaviour.
I tried talking to him about it, but the answers were always the same – over and over, he would tell me he was fine, and that nothing was wrong. He just didn’t feel like having sex. At one point, I was so frustrated that I snapped.
‘What about my needs?’ I asked.
David’s reply stunned me. ‘Oh please, we don’t need to have sex to be happy.’
After that, I only made a few more attempts, because I could no longer deal with the rejection. It humiliated me.
Talking to David about this has become too hard – I get emotional and cry or lash out at him, while he just shuts down. But what puzzles me most is that he’s still very affectionate – he kisses me, reassures me that I’m attractive, and tells me that he loves me.
The husband I just can't figure out
But we don’t have sex or do anything remotely sexual, so I can’t help but feel dejected and unloved. I’ve racked my brain over what the problem might be, but I’ve come up empty. As far as I know, David’s doing well at work, and we don’t have any financial stress at home. I’ve considered that he might have erectile dysfunction, but I feel he would tell me if he did. We've always been honest with each other.
I want David to see a marriage therapist, or at least talk to his doctor – but I don’t know how to bring it up without offending him. He is a proud man, and unlikely to discuss his problems with others.
I’ve resigned myself to the idea that I may never have sex with my husband again. The thought of that makes me sad, and I try not to dwell on it, but it really hurts. I miss the intimacy and fun that we shared, and I feel I no longer know him. I wish he would stop being so selfish. I hope I’ll fi nd the courage to properly broach the subject with him so we can fix whatever is wrong.
I don’t want to split up with him over this because I love him, and we’ve built a life together. But every day that passes without us having sex only makes me feel more resentful and distant towards him.”
*Names have been changed.
This story was originally published in the May 2017 issue of Her World.